With one day left to go until the summer transfer window slams shut, it’s not just clubs scrambling around in the search to sort themselves out for the season ahead. For players as well, these can be a very nervous 48 hours, not knowing where they might be playing next, possibly having to uproot the family as well, even though the new season has already begun. For these ten players, the next few days will be crucial to their careers:
1. Clint Dempsey (Fulham)
Wanted by: Liverpool, Sunderland, Arsenal
It’s hard not to feel sympathy for Dempsey, who ended last season with 23 goals and a Player of the Year award. Coach Martin Jol had intimated that, if he had a good year, Dempsey could find a bigger club, so the American assumed he would be allowed to leave without rancour. Instead, things have got very messy after the website of Liverpool owners FSG erroneously claimed Dempsey had signed, and coach Brendan Rodgers confirmed interest in the player. No bid followed and Dempsey has played no part in Fulham’s start to the season. Sunderland have spotted the situation and had talks with Dempsey: but for all his achievements in six years in England, it would be a step down to move to a side that has finished below Fulham for the last four seasons.
2. Ibrahim Afellay (Barcelona)
Wanted by: Inter, Spurs, Liverpool, Newcastle, Schalke, Arsenal
The Dutch winger is set to agree a deal with a foreign club after Barcelona agreed to loan him out for a season. But he might have to improve his attitude: according to one of Holland’s leading journalists, Johan Derksen, his behaviour at Euro 2012 left a lot to be desired. “Afellay is unpopular in the Dutch camp,” Derksen told football show VI Oranje. “He came across as, ‘I play for Barcelona, who do you play for?’ He saw everyone as beneath him. Amazingly arrogant. When it was someone’s birthday, and everybody had to pay for a gift, he wouldn’t even chip in €10.”
3.Yann M’Vila (Rennes)
Wanted by: Everton, Spurs, Newcastle, Arsenal
Six months ago, the Rennes holding midfielder was one of the most wanted players in Europe. But a series of scandals – which included an alleged fight with a restaurant owner, a night spent in the cells for assaulting a 17-year-old, and being the victim of a robbery at the hands of two prostitutes – and a dip in form at the end of the season have seen the suitors dry up. Rennes turned down a €20m offer from Arsenal last summer, and are not holding out for €15m. Spurs bid €12m earlier this month and, with the deadline getting closer, cash-strapped Rennes may well blink first.
4. Hulk (Porto)
Wanted by: Zenit St Petersburg, Chelsea
The Brazilian striker was subject of an €80m bid from Anzhi Makhachkala last season, but another Russian club, champions Zenit, have baulked at meeting the buy-out clause fee of €50m for him. Reports in Portugal suggest that Hulk would rather join Chelsea, but the European champions aren’t prepared to spend so much. There is potential for compromise: if Porto sold Joao Moutinho instead, Hulk could renew his Porto contract, increase his wages and reduce his buy-out clause to allow Chelsea to buy him either in January or in 12 months. It could be a tense few days for all concerned.
5. Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao)
Wanted by: Juventus, AC Milan, Spurs
This has been a rough few months for the forward, who did not see a single minute of action during Spain’s victorious Euro 2012 campaign. Llorente announced last week that he would not be renewing his contract, which has one year to run, leading to a hate-campaign against him in Bilbao, as the city walls were daubed in graffiti abusing him, and banners unfurled at the stadium declaring him a traitor. Athletic have said he will only go if his €40m buy-out clause is met and Italian champions Juventus are closest to finalising the deal. If that doesn’t happen, though, Llorente could have a difficult season, with fans against him and in Marcelo Bielsa, a coach that has appeared to have lost faith in him too.
6. Theo Walcott (Arsenal)
Wanted by: Liverpool, Manchester City
Arsenal have allowed a situation to develop in which Walcott holds all the cards. Still only 23, he has one year left on his contract and can offer something that all top clubs want: genuine pace. Admittedly, that also comes with the frustration of a missed cross, or failure to spot a team-mate in space. But an impasse over Arsenal’s latest contract offer – as well as Walcott’s apparent desire to reinvent himself as a central striker rather than a winger – has alerted Liverpool and Manchester City to his availability. He’d get more games at the former, but could win trophies, albeit as a squad player, at the latter; ether way, if he left this close to deadline day, you can be certain Arsenal fans would not be happy.
7. Ricardo Carvalho (Real Madrid)
Wanted by: West Ham, QPR
A Champions League winner with Porto and three-time Premier League winner with Chelsea, Carvalho is now 34 and after an injury-hit last season, when he only made 13 appearances for Real Madrid in all competitions, is set to leave the Spanish champions. Madrid coach Jose Mourinho admitted this week: “Ricardo’s not part of our plans. He has to decide if he wants to play football or to run down his contract.” He has one year left on his deal and you can’t help think that if he does stay in Madrid and not play, his career could be over. The type of club in for him are newly-promoted English sides looking for some steel at the back – quite a few levels below his current status. His signing would also be a risk: on a big salary, and with concerns about his fitness. Wherever he ends up, it might be a dangerous marriage of convenience.
8. Mathieu Debuchy (Lille)
Wanted by: Real Madrid, Newcastle
A few things are clear with the Debuchy situation: the player wants to leave, and Lille will only let him go if their €10m valuation is met. It seems a fair price for one of the best attacking right-backs in the game, and yet Newcastle, in their quest for a deal, went no further than €6m. This week Real Madrid were linked to the Frenchman, a move that, if it came off, would infuriate Toon owner Mike Ashley. Lille were the last team to qualify for the Champions League group stages last night, after an extra-time win over FC Copenhagen: the additional €20m in revenue now means they don’t have to sell.
9. Andy Carroll (Liverpool)
Wanted by: Newcastle, West Ham
What do Liverpool with a £35m forward who the new coach doesn’t want? They have so far refused two bids, one from West Ham who cheekily offered £2m with another £16m payable if they stay in the Premier League (and there’s no guarantee of that if their opening two games are anything to go by) and Newcastle, who offered a season-long loan with £16m buying clause for the player they sold 18 months ago. It really is a tricky situation: Carroll is said to be keen to return to Newcastle, but do they even need him if Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse are still there (okay, so they miss one month in January for the African Nations Cup but only then if Senegal beat Ivory Coast in qualifying)? Carroll may yet have to sit it out on the Anfield bench and hope that the occasional substitute appearance is enough to encourage fresh interest in winter.
10. Dimitar Berbatov (Manchester United)
Wanted by: Fiorentina, Juventus, Fulham
This is possibly the strangest deal of the summer. Berbatov has watched on as Sir Alex Ferguson bought Robin van Persie and then a youngster, Angelo Henriquez, to boost United’s attack, and admitted that they were looking to sell the enigmatic Bulgarian. So on Wednesday, he jumped in a plane bound for Florence to confirm terms and sign a contract already verbally agreed with a team that clearly values playmakers over pace (with new signings including Alberto Aquilani, David Pizarro, Borja Valero and Matias Fernandez). But he never arrived, instead stopped off in Turin to talk to Juventus. Fiorentina were furious and released an angry statement later that night which read: “At this point we’re happy Dimitar Berbatov didn’t come to Fiorentina: he didn’t deserve out city, our shirt and the values it represents.” They also attacked the “outlandish and arrogant behaviour of other clubs, who have nothing to do with fair play and sporting ethics that go even beyond the confines of fairness”. Such is their disgust at Juventus that it now seems unlikely that Fiorentina will allow them to sign Stevan Jovetic from them next summer. But then Juventus were also seemingly gazumped as reports claimed that Fulham, flush with £15m from selling Mousa Dembele to Spurs, had had a £4m bid accepted. You can imagine Berbatov, with typical insouciance, not worrying about the destructive trail he has left behind him. But if he does end up in West London (as latest reports strongly indicate is the case), it would be an impressive coup for Martin Jol and his chief executive, Alistair Macintosh.